General Sports

Loss of Jamiel Shaw’s Life Transcends Sports

The story of Jamiel Shaw, Jr., as reported, is not that of sensation but rather that of the war between our communities and our federal, state and local governments. For they have dropped the ball, not Jamiel, not his family, not his neighborhood.By Diane M. Grassi

-“I’m safer, somewhat, in Iraq than my son is on the streets of the United States. …My country let me down.” -Sgt. Anita Shaw, United States Army

March 2, 2008 in Los Angeles, CA was no different than any other in the crime-ridden areas of the City of Angels where the homicide rate has risen by 27% since the same time period in 2007.

What differentiates March 2, 2008 from other days, however, is that in areas not well known to be crime-ridden, where residents in communities try to get by in doing right by their neighbors, there is a war brewing for which they are unarmed.

Jamiel Shaw, Jr., a 17-year old Los Angeles High School football star running back, finishing his junior year in high school as the Southern League’s most valuable player, was celebrated by family, friends and his community.

But Jamiel Shaw, Jr. was not only celebrated for being able to run with a football or beat county records on his track team, but as one who also represented ideals that every family strives for such as his commitment to his education, his devotion to his church and his loyalty to his family.

Unfortunately, on March 2, 2008, Jamiel Shaw, Jr. was slain three houses down from his own home at 6 o’clock on that Sunday evening after returning to his neighborhood by public transportation, following a weekend football symposium in which he participated. In fact, he was talking to his father on his cell phone minutes before he turned the corner prior to walking up his block.

Within minutes, Jamiel’s father, Jamiel Shaw, Sr., heard what he thought was a back-firing vehicle on the nearby interstate, poked his head outside of the front door and saw a crowd gathering in the direction in which his son was walking. Jamiel Shaw, Sr. ran down the street, only to find his son mortally wounded with a bullet hole in his head, lying on the ground.

The national mainstream media and numerous media outlets throughout Los Angeles, primarily the week that Jamiel was murdered, reported it as another ghetto crime as the result of gang violence.

That caption, however, was not only inaccurate and incomplete but was a disservice to the real issues underlying this important story on a number of fronts. But such could not be handily fit into a headline sound bite for sensational purposes. So, the story angle was spun to fit an agenda.

Important to note, however, is that the essence of Jamiel Shaw, Jr. was not simply that of an aspiring athlete, already accepting football recruitment inquiries from Stanford University, Rutgers University and Arizona State University. For Jamiel Shaw, Jr.’s family did not raise Jamiel as a footballer but as a good human being, in order to excel in whatever path he chose for his life and to hopefully inspire his friends to do the same.

The family of Jamiel Shaw, Jr. included his dedicated father, raising him and his 9-year old brother while his mother was serving her 2nd tour of duty in Iraq as a Sergeant in the United States Army. He also had an involved extended family, including school friends and church members, in what is now considered an old-school community, where folks still look after each other. And no, Jamiel did not live in a crime infested gang-banging ghetto.

The story of Jamiel Shaw, Jr., as reported, is not that of sensation but rather that of the war between our communities and our federal, state and local governments. For they have dropped the ball, not Jamiel, not his family, not his neighborhood.

Non-observation by local law enforcement and corrections officials, in confirming the legal immigration status of prisoners in U.S. county, state and federal prisons violates federal law and puts our citizens at risk.

And it goes without saying that the non-arrest of persons illegally entering U.S. borders who then go on to commit criminal acts against Americans is but an act of criminality unto itself.

Such criminal and illegal aliens incarcerated in U.S. jails and in prisons serving time, upon such completion of their served time, are to be turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) authorities, an agency of the Department of Homeland Security. They are then to arrange for the immediate deportation of such criminals back to their country of origin. Such is a requirement and a duty mandated by federal law.

The now arraigned, alleged murderer of Jamiel Shaw, Jr., Pedro Espinoza, is being held in lieu of a $1million dollar bond on first degree murder charges with a special circumstance, as an active participant in a criminal street gang, where the murder was carried out to further the activities of the criminal street gang.

But the legal status of Pedro Espinoza, a 19-year old illegal alien from Mexico, was not confirmed either by California law enforcement or the California Department of Corrections, prior to his release from the Los Angeles County Jail on March 1, 2008.

He had been serving a prison term of less than 4 months for assault with a deadly weapon, possession of an unregistered handgun, carrying a concealed weapon without a license and resisting arrest. Moreover, he was never charged with being in the U.S. illegally.

Had the system worked properly, Pedro Espinoza would not have been let back into the community from which he was supposed to have been deported, and within 24 hours of his release he would not have been able to acquire another handgun, only to murder Jamiel Shaw, Jr.

Furthermore, when Jamiel Shaw, Jr. was gunned down in cold blood, it was not simply a matter of another street gang statistic. For Pedro Espinoza belonged to the 18th Street Gang, a trans-national organization with direct ties to the Mexican Mafia.

And some of Mexico’s largest drug cartels, with human smuggling and para-military weaponry operations, and some of the most powerful in all of Central and South America have direct ties to the Mexican Mafia gang.  

Mexican drug cartels are now utilizing U.S. based Mexican gangs to aid them with the illegal U.S. importation of cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine, all of which wind up on American streets. No, the 18th Street Gang is not your garden variety neighborhood gang-banger operation.

But the convenient and continual spin by both Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Los Angeles Police Commissioner William Bratton is that policing by enforcing immigration laws and obtaining gang members’ legal status but violates their civil rights.

They refer to Special Order 40, originally passed by the Los Angeles City Council in 1979 in order to encourage illegal aliens at that time to report crimes within their neighborhoods.

Nearly 30 years later, and now a much different world, due to the neglect of our federal government in protecting the U.S. southern border, Special Order 40 has but backfired on the very people it was intended to protect.

It designated Los Angeles as a “sanctuary city” for those illegally entering the U.S. and now by extension to felons of trans-national organized crime. It has outlived its intended purpose.

Since the death of their son, Jamiel’s parents have become pro-active in working to amend Special Order 40, in proposed legislation called Jamiel’s Law, through the efforts of prospective Los Angeles mayoral candidate, Walter Moore. Also, through a motion introduced by Los Angeles Councilman, Dennis Zine, to the Los Angeles City Council on 4/08/08 similar revisions were submitted.

The goal is to eliminate the unabated and federally unlawful protective status accorded illegal aliens, now overwhelming the 9,600 member police force of Los Angeles.

The Shaw Family will now utilize this moment to help elevate all of us as Americans in coming together, not to divide our cities, unlike our politicians and bureaucrats who so relish in doing so. The Shaw Family’s hope is to engage our law enforcement officials with the very communities they purport to protect.

And Jamiel’s father believes that he has a calling not only on behalf of his now deceased son Jamiel, but his young son, Thomas, who no longer wants to be a footballer like his big brother was, but “a scientist” so that he can “invent a time machine” and turn back time in order to spare his big brother’s ultimate fate.

Copyright ©2008 Diane M. Grassi

Contact: [email protected]

By Diane M. Grassi

Diane M. Grassi attempts to shine new light on issues centered on professional and amateur sports through her writing, by going beyond the headlines and sound-bites and to present sports fans with the back-story. In that effort, she seeks out those issues that rarely become headlines and elicits discussion as to why that is case.

Grassi’s goal is to not only provide content, but to offer an outlet for sports fans of all types, of various backgrounds and life experiences, to engage in topical issues with candor, good humor and provocative thought. Yet, to Grassi, it is the issues that are paramount, as opposed to the messenger, while maintaining intellectually honest and original fact-based reporting and research without an agenda.

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